Tom and Henry Anderson
Anderson Family History (1800s to Present)
In 1978, the descendants of Tom and Henry Anderson held their first formal family reunion in Lewisburg, Tennessee. At that reunion, we received from third generation family members the oral history of our family.
In 1979, this history was published for the first time. As history goes, this story gave, and continues to give us a point of reference. It added meaning to our purpose and place. Since that time, a limited degree of research has been conducted on Tom and Henry. Records containing information about them has highlighted events that occurred in their lives. According to the oral history, Tom and Henry with their mother, Georgianna, and a sister were brought as enslaved Africans from the state of Virginia to Tennessee to be sold.
From Jackson, Tennessee they walked, escorted by armed guards to Fisherville, Tennessee.* Old records of the people who lived in the area indicated that most Caucasian slave-owners named Anderson in Eads, Arlington, Brunswick and Fisherville were from the Carolinas. Local historians say enslaved Africans brought to this area were transported by land or boat from the Virginia’s, Carolina’s, northern Georgia and far eastern Tennessee.
(*However, according to records we know, factually, that Tom and Henry were born in Shelby County. The only explanation we have that can logically support our oral information is that we know when oral history is passed on, many times critical information is lost or misinterpreted.)
We are fortunate to have some eyewitness accounts from the life of Tom Anderson. One of which was when he sat on a hillside and saw General Ulysses Grant march down U.S. Highway 64 headed to Memphis to free the enslaved Africans in 1863. This was the same year of the Emancipation Proclamation. Seeing General Grant in route to Memphis was probably one of his most memorable life experiences. During the Civil War, Memphis became the war capital of the South for a short while.
The property inventory of slave owner, William Wash, shows Emily Wash Harris to be the grandmother-in-law of Tom and Henry. According to this record Henry Anderson is listed as Henry Jr.
Both Tom and Henry married in their early twenties. Henry and wife Louella had one son, Clarence, who at the time was listed as one years old. Tom and wife Lucy had one son named Cecil, who was then listed as 6 months old.
Both brothers were living in the home with Emily Harris. Both of these young men were familiar with craftsmanship in shoe repair, furniture making and farming. Both brothers livelihood was farming. Neither were tall men or heavy in statue.
- The 1900 census shows Henry Anderson head of his household. He states his father is from Virginia and he does not know his mother’s place of birth.
- At this time, Henry and Louella had two more sons, Charlie Spencer and Millard Fillmore and they are heads of their own households.
- Millard was married to Janie with two children, Cornelius, 20 months and Amy Lou, 4 months.
- Also living with them was a brother-in-law, Sid Boyd.
- Charlie was married to Hattie Collins. He had two daughters, Elsie, 8 years old and Jennie 6 years old born from a previous marriage to Estella Roach who was deceased at the time of this census interview.
Tom and Lucy had five children Cecil, Ed, Florence, Lettie, and Hugh. Tom told his granddaughter that he never was cut out for the fieldwork so as a child he worked in his master’s house. One of his chores was to fan flies from the table during meal times. He would go from one end of the table to the other and stand on a stool to carry out his duty. We can reasonably assume he was as a small boy at this time. Shelby County deed records show that Henry as well as Tom owned land, however we do not know how they acquired it. Tom and Henry eventually "sold" their land to their children for $1 + love.
Charlie acted as an informant for Western State Hospital at the death of his father, Henry. He identified his parents as "colored" and no birthplace was given for either. His grand children remember traits about him and said he had a condition similar to Alzheimer’s that led his family to pursue care for him at Western State.
A Message to the Descendants
The population of Eads was centered around the railroad until Highway 64 was widened which resulted in growth occurring around the highway area. Both Tom and Henry lived next to the highway. Some fourth, fifth, and sixth generation Anderson’s continue that tradition today living on or near the original places where Henry and Tom lived.
Just as we had that foundation laid upon us we must do more to instill those same family values into our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, for they are “Our” leaders of tomorrow. We must tell the stories and struggles that were overcome by our families through prayers and faith. It’s your responsibility to provide guidance and encouragement through leadership. It’s time for unity, action and reconnection. It’s time to practice what we teach and preach! Stop claiming negativity and despair and start thinking and talking positively. We must convince “Our” children that they have the opportunities to develop their leadership skills, further their education and become whatever they want to be. For God will provide and He is worthy to be praised!
Who Are We?
Throughout the years we have overcome obstacles and challenges, but through the grace of God, we have been able to improve our education from being promoted in grade school to achieving undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees. We have used our strong work ethics and life experiences to make us more marketable for promotions or owning our own businesses. We have become good homemakers who have been the nucleus of the family, and taken care of our family needs so they have been able to achieve individual goals. In our schools we have become the educators and principals who are responsible for educating the leaders of tomorrow. We are nurses, x-ray technicians, federal and state workers, social workers, therapists, accountants, funeral directors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers, mason workers, mechanics, law enforcers, chefs, transit drivers, computer programmers, photographers, inventors, dentist, authors, lobbyist, chefs, ministers and pastors, CEOs, CFOs, military Chiefs and officers, pilots, news broadcasters, beauticians, clothing designers, PTA Leaders, Boys and Girls Scout Group Leaders, professional athletes, agricultural specialists, engineers, trainers, managers, supervisors, and the list goes on and on and on.
Who are we? We Are Descendants of Tom and Henry. Who are we?
“WE ARE ANDERSONS!”
The family history was taken from the Tom and Henry Anderson Family Reunion July 2-4, 2004, Memphis, TN souvenir book.
Credits Were Listed As Follows:
Alfonzo Anderson Felecia V. Brooks
A.C. Anderson Leathris Anderson Cooper
Joyce A. Anderson Barbara Anderson Jones Pinson
Joyce Brooks Branch Gertrude Anderson Smith
Dorothy Anderson Brooks Sylvester Lewis
James Harold ‘Pete’ Brooks
Shelby County Library
Shelby County Health Dept
State Department of Archives
OFFSPRING AND WHO ARE WE? – 2010 NJ Committee